Evangel Family Church Cebu celebrated its 25th anniversary with the theme: “25 Years Of God’s Faithfulness”. A church that was consigned to be closed down after a few years of existence is now a vibrant community of believers impacting lives in Cebu City and throughout the Central and Eastern Visayas Region.
The Call – Hard times, Faithful God
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations” Deuteronomy 7:9
It all started with a vision. A vision by Rev Dr Robert Lim to plant churches in the Philippines to touch lives and point them to the most faithful one, our Lord Jesus Christ. In 1993, a young missionary couple, Revs Chuck and Jocelyn Chua, answered the call to lead EFC Cebu after four hard years of pioneering work by Revs Andrew and Rowena Kwong, followed by a year of interim service by two young lady missionaries. Since its inception, countless challenges of some sort confronted the ministry that at times shook the foundation of the church to its very core. Praise be to God that the leaders stood still! From the house church with a few attendees has emerged today a dynamic disciple-making and missions-minded church, deeply rooted in the scripture and reaching a needy community along with 157 outreaches across the Central and Eastern Visayas. Truly, God is faithful forevermore.
As EFC Cebu marked its 25th anniversary, we looked back on the people who shaped the church to where it is today. Rightly so, it was fitting and proper to honor Rev Drs Robert and Marion Lim on such an occasion. Activities included a serenade by the community choir with a Chinese song entitled “Path of Grace” and a song presentation from the Bautista Clan. Known to many in EFC Cebu, the Bautista clan is a clear testament of God’s faithfulness. The godly heritage that cascades down to the younger generations traces its root to the family patriarch, the late Bro Auguro Bautista Sr, an early pioneer and faithful member of the church. Glory be to God.
The celebration last June 9, 2013 was a day worth celebrating with the presence of God’s faithful servants, Rev Drs Robert and Marion Lim. Truth of the matter is, we dearly consider ourselves part of their spiritual heritage. Little Chelsea Bautista presented a beautiful bouquet to Pastor Marion, and ElRoy Chua honored them with a hand-painted portrait done by Bro Antonio Vegas, an artist from our community who was powerfully converted to Christ.
Rev Marion Lim shared on The Foundation of Integrity. She stressed on the pressing issues of honesty and justice or impartiality to be embraced by Christians. She also underscored some practical teachings like integrity in paying our tithes, first fruits, pledges, paying off our debts and integrity in dealing with people. Truly, the people felt so blessed and motivated to walk humbly with Jesus and experience His faithfulness. Indeed, it was a timely message for the occasion. God is strategically re-positioning us for His divine manifestation as Evangel Family Church Cebu launched into a new era.
Though it was good to see the hall being jam-packed with people, let alone the door gifts, the celebration was ultimately not about numbers. The 25th church anniversary celebration was a celebration of God’s great faithfulness.
Following the joyous Sunday morning celebration, the church leaders organized a special dinner at the Ching Palace Restaurant to continue its celebration of God’s faithfulness by honoring yet again Drs Robert and Marion Lim. The event was also graced by the presence of JECPP’s Section Leaders of Central and Eastern Visayas. The picture of all the different generations of leaders of EFC Cebu was quite a sight.
Grace Bongabong and Sheryl Gabule emceed the entire evening with Govardhan Requierme as the worship leader. Sumptuous dinner was served with gladness by the restaurant personnel to the joy of all. It was indeed a very delightful dinner as the ‘sweet’ fellowship around the table was evident in the faces of the Evangelites.
Pastors Robert and Marion Lim were overwhelmed at the creative expression of the leaders’ gratefulness to both of them. ‘The Heritage’ was a 16-min video shown to remember how their lives were instrumental in planting the Cebu work in the 1980’s, salvaged it in the 1990’s and helped it grow through the years. Their exemplary lives and works for almost half a century have been bearing fruit like a heritage tree and are inspirational in the formation of the Robert and Marion Lim PEACE Foundation. The said foundation is EFC Cebu’s answer to the five global giants in our community. Thus, the leadership deemed it appropriate to honor them for the godly heritage we truly are proud of.
Elroy Chua chose a very meaningful song entitled, ‘Pastors We Love You’ that was rendered by Christine Mae Diaz. As all the leaders sang in unison the chorus with the last phrase, ‘my child well done’, it made Pastors Robert and Marion Lim closed their eyes in thankfulness and worship to the Lord for such an honor He allowed them to receive. Pas Chuck Chua, Pas Jay Bautista and Grace Bongabong’s family paid them tributes and testified how the Lord used the couple’s lives to help them grow in their Christian walk.
Pastors Robert and Marion were completely unaware that the dinner was specially planned in their honor. But they stood up with such thankfulness and humility at the wonderful works God had done these past 25 years to the church through their lives. Pastors Chuck and Jocelyn Chua taught the church to always remember where we come from and to give honor where honor is due. However, to their utter surprise, Pas Ammabelle Bautista, the one who spearheaded the entire event, also presented to both Pas Chuck and Jocelyn Chua a beautiful family portrait and a bouquet. Gratefulness begets gratefulness indeed!
Pas Robert Lim gave a short message encouraging the church to continue to nurture leaders for the next generation. He ended his message with a very striking phrase that ‘in every seed is a forest’. It was amazing how his message was in line with the theme of the video presented for them on the ‘Heritage Tree’, depicting their lives as a seed that grows to be a huge tree that is bearing so much fruit up to this time.
With such an inspirational night, it was indeed a job well done by the Board of Trustees of the Robert and Marion Lim PEACE Foundation, who cooperated and contributed to its victory in teaching ‘thankfulness’ to the younger generation by honoring Pastors Robert and Marion Lim as well as our Senior Pastor and his wife, Pastors Chuck and Jocelyn Chua. To God be the glory for giving us a momentous 25th anniversary. Amen!